Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 10/28/01.
The Mystery Behind the Lord Reminding Abram of the Stars
The events of September 11 have served as a wake-up call for this nation. As we face the challenges, we have seen a call for the renewal of our heritage, our fundamental values, and our priorities, and by all accounts, it certainly is not over. We are, indeed, at war, engaged in Islam's "Jihad in America."
Most Americans, including most Christians, have no real awareness of the nature of Islam, its origin, agenda, and methods. There is a serious need to understand the realities and beware of misleading propaganda. There is a concerted effort to avoid offending the "moderate" Muslims throughout the world who are basically peaceful, unlike the "extremists" or "fundamentalists." However, we also need to recognize the root teachings of the Koran, and the call to violence that has been spread throughout the world. They believe in book that teaches in Surah 9:73, "Prophet, make war on unbelievers and hypocrites, and deal rigorously with them." They believe in Surah 8:59, "Let not the unbelievers think they will ever get away. They have not the power to do so. Muster against them all the men and cavalry at your command, so that you may strike terror into the enemy of God and your enemy... Prophet, [Muhammad] rouse the faithful to arms! If they [the non-Muslims] incline to peace [accept Islam] make peace with them."
The real issue, of course, for us is found in EPH 6:10, "From now on, start becoming strong by means of the Lord, and in the strength of His might." A pastor-teacher has a responsibility not only to prepare his congregation doctrinally but also to be a watchman as in Eze 33. When he sees a sword coming upon the land, he blows the trumpet and warns the people.
This past week we looked at the five basic deceptions of Islam:
- Islam is a religion of love.
- Islam is a religion of peace.
- "Allah" is just another name for God.
- The Jesus Christ of the Muslim is the same Jesus Christ of the Christian.
- The Quran is the Holy Book, not the Bible.
Islam is not a religion of love. The Quran declares, "Do not make friends with the Jews and Christians [Surah 5:51]." It instructs Muslims in Surah 2:190-192, "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, for Allah loveth not transgressors. Kill them wherever ye catch them."
Is Islam really a religion of peace? We noted that the Islamic religion divides the world into two - the Dar-ul-Islam, the house of Islam, and the Dar-ul-harb, the house of war. Anyone who is not a Muslim is of the house of war. They teach that the Dar-ul-Islam, the house of the Muslim, can not have peace on earth until the Dar-ul-harb, the house of war, is destroyed. This is a cardinal doctrine in the Islamic religion.
"Allah" is not just another name for God. Islam teaches that God is Allah and that He is the God of Abraham and Ishmael, Surah 37:99-109. Our God claims in EXO 3:6, that "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Four times in the book of Genesis God claims to be the God of Isaac, and that Isaac would be the promised seed to Abraham, rather than Ishmael (see also ROM 9:3-7).
This deception needs to be taught, and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ need to be equipped. They need to understand the difference between Allah and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or they will not understand the real danger our nation is facing in the Middle East. Muhammad was rejected as a prophet by the Jews and the Christians but was accepted by the pagans of Mecca and Medina. They had 360 pagan gods (one for every day of their calendar year), the three most important gods being the moon, the sun, and the stars. As we have studied, "Allah" is name of the moon god.
DEU 4:19. "And beware, lest you lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven."
Muhammad abolished 357 of the gods, leaving the moon, sun, and stars; eventually he also rejected the sun and the stars, to create a monotheistic (one god) religion. Muhammad took the greatest of all these 360 gods, "al-ilah," which means moon crescent, and called him "god," or "Allah." Obviously, Allah is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Most Christians have never taken the time to learn these facts, and many actually think "Allah" is just another name for God. However, the Muslims' religion dogmatically teaches that Jesus Christ is not the Messiah, and that Allah is the greatest.
In our study of the origin of the trouble in the Middle East, we have been looking at the life of Abram as he was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans according to the will of God, but then traveled to Egypt apart from God's will.
GEN 12:14-16. And it came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians kept on staring at the woman because she was extremely beautiful. And Pharaoh's officials [princes] saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was seized ["laqach," taken forcibly] into Pharaoh's house. Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female slaves and female donkeys and camels."
Abram failed miserably when he allowed another man to take his wife, but he would get back in the plan of God and accomplish four major victories in Gen 14.
- He had victory in his mental attitude when he learned that his foolish nephew Lot had been taken prisoner was on his way to slavery. Without one "I told you so," he went immediately to Lot's rescue, ignoring his past unfaithfulness.
- He accomplished a great military victory, defeating a 100,000-man army with 318 men.
- He experienced a victory in his motivation when he refused the gifts of the king of Sodom.
- His fourth and greatest victory was the victory over self-righteousness.
GEN 15:1. After these things [Abram's four great victories in chapter 14] the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great."
Even after all these great victories, Abram got out of fellowship through the temp-tation of human viewpoint, specifically fear and worry. Abram was afraid of retaliation and revenge from Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, who had captured Lot, and who was one of the most powerful kings in the Middle East. He was also afraid that the King of Sodom might take revenge on him for refusing his proposition.
Abram was living in fear of these men. Once a believer becomes fearful or anxious in any way, his spiritual advance is halted. God has done everything He can to offer us a spiritual life without fear, 2TI 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a stable mind."
GEN 15:2-3. And Abram said, "O Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Since Thou hast given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir."
Childlessness to Abram was a hopeless situation and by this time there was absolutely no way that Abram could expect (in the natural realm) to have a child. He wanted the fulfillment of the promise that out of him would come great nations, yet it seemed impossible for that to happen with him and Sarah. Since Lot had left, Abram had changed his will, leaving everything to Eliezer, his faithful administrator. The Lord once again, in His grace, gives Abram a promise, GEN 15:4, "Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'This man [Eliezer] will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.'" Abram has a simple choice: he can believe what God says and have perfect happiness, or he can live in the natural realm and try the human solution instead of the divine solution. The situation is still hopeless from the human viewpoint and will remain hopeless for 15 more years. For the next 15 years, if Abram wants peace and happiness, it will be a matter of believing the Word of God. ROM 4:20-21 tells us that 14 years after this promise was given, "...with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform."
In Gen 15, the promises in this passage are made specifically to Abram, but the principle is the same for all of us-a promise is no greater than the person who makes the promise, and no stronger than his ability to fulfill the promise. Here they are the promises of God, and God is sovereign, absolutely righteous, just, loving, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, immutable, and true. When God says that He will do something, He keeps His word. These characteristics are a part of the essence of God.
Abram was 85 at the time God made this promise to him, and he will be 100 when the promise is fulfilled. There were 14 more years before Abram, at age 99, received further confirmation of the promise. For the next 14 years, Abram is going to take the position of "staggering not at the promises of God." For 14 years he is going to stop worrying, stop allowing his soul to be filled with stress, and believe the promises of God. He will still have his successes and failures, but his lifestyle will be one of perseverance.
However, since Abram is continuing to worry in Gen 15, it became necessary for God to spell it out plainly with three object lessons.
In verses 5-7, we see three pictures, all of which serve to illustrate the point that the One who made the promises has the ability to keep them. God's promises do not depend upon who or what we are, but on who and what God is. This is grace, and once you truly understand grace, you will not life in fear, terror, or worry. In GEN 15:5-7, "And He took him outside and said, 'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. And He said to him, 'I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.'"
The first object lesson is the stars. This lesson illustrates the fact that God has the ability to solve Abram's problems. He has solved problems far greater than Abram's. There are millions and millions of stars in space that move at unbelievable rates of speed, yet they do not collide, but continually hold their orbit. He has the power to keep all of these great stars of space in their or-bits, following a perfect pattern. This requires power, -and God has the omnipotence to accomplish it, COL 1:16-17, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." In HEB 1:3, "He upholds all things by the word of His power." In verse 5 we have not only an illustration, but an analogy as well; God is saying, "Take a look at those stars. They remain in their orbits, though moving through space at great speed. I hold them all in my hand." Not only has Abraham been promised an heir from his own line, but he is also told that even as the stars are innumerable, so will his seed be.
JOH 20:31. "But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."
In Abram's time what was written that they might believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," was written across the stars. Abram understood, as those of the antediluvian period understood, the stars and the constellations, and the formation of the divine design of the stars. Today we see the perversion of the Zodiac with the demonic psychics and astrologers. Everyone who listens to this deception is touching something demonic and is playing with fire. Eventually they will end up in oppression and controlled in some measure in their thinking by demons.
The Lord wasn't just telling Abram to go outside and look up in the air at the stars. For 2,500 years God revealed the Gospel before there was a written Scripture. There are 12 messages in the stars that God used to tell the story of the Gospel.
- The constellation called Virgo was originally a virgin woman holding a branch, a representation of the Messiah, and she had an ear of corn in her left ear, referring to the promised seed of the woman, (GEN 3:15). The child seated upon her lap was called "Iesou" by the ancient Egyptians.
- Libra, the Scales, showed the Cross endured, the victim, the lamb being slain, pierced to death.
- Scorpio, the Scorpion, showed the conflict with the serpent Satan.
- Draco, the Dragon, showed the old serpent, winding himself about the Pole.
- Sagittarius, the Archer, was the "double-natured One" triumphing as a Warrior.
- Capricornus, the Sea Goat, was the goat of atonement, slain for the redeemed.
- Aquarius, the Water Bearer, represented the living waters of blessing poured out for the redeemed.
- Pisces, the Fishes, showed the redeemed blessed, although bound. We were blessed through our Lord's bondage and affliction.
- Aries, the Ram, was the Lamb slain, prepared for victory.
- Taurus was the invincible Ruler come, the red heifer, also symbolizing the power of the false church-state union at the end.
- Gemini, the Twins, showed the marriage of the Lamb and His Church.
- Cancer, the Crab, represented the possessions held fast by the redeemed.
- Leo, the Lion, was the King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, aroused for the rending of Satan by Him and His Church.
God personally crafted the stars, not to be perverted in astrology, but rather to tell the wonderful news of the Gospel and His plan for the redemption of the human race. We will look at each of these in detail in our upcoming studies.